Arguing for Apostolic Succession


#1

I’m not catholic yet, but I’m getting close. I’d really love to hear your comments about a discussion I’ve had on a friend’s blog.

I don’t really have the knowledge to give the topic full treatment, and I don’t want to just post links to better arguments. I think I’ve made my case and I think brad’s shown his blind contempt for everything that is Church with a capital C. What do you think? Is there something I can do better?

[quote=Bradley M Mills]My Question is why do we need to centralize and do the whole “Church Inc.” thing? Is part of the legalism problem stem from this massive structure we have created thru the decades?
Your prolly writing me off as “Brad’s against the institution again” but seriously, i think there is good reasons to first 1. see the new testament theological precedent for a decentralized notion of God’s people and 2. understand then when things are put into an institution the potential for harm goes through the roof!
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The full story: On Rules…


#2

The rest of the story…

I'm not for sure what theological precedent you're referring to, but there is a ecclesiastical precendent found in the foundation of the church: the apostles. That's why the historical creeds call the Church, among other things, apostolic.

[quote=Bradley M Mills] 2. understand then when things are put into an institution the potential for harm goes through the roof!
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Understand that when we embrace individualism and attempt to create a false dichotomy between relationship and institution, the potential for harm goes through the roof. (Actually we don't have a roof to go through, cause we couldn't organize to build one, yet alone a city on a hill, or a kingdom.)

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You're right! Despite your sarcasm, the idea is ancient and I wouldn't be so quick to write it off.

[quote=Bradley M Mills] Now, the notion of apostleship may have started out narrow, but by the end of the first century it applied to all believers. You prolly wont believe me though.
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Why should I believe you, especially when there are plenty of quotes from early christians like this:

[quote=Clement I (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).]
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Now I know you probably don't care about what Clement or Irenaeus, or Augustine has to say, but I do.

[quote=Bradley M Mills]Im not even going to comment on the use of “creeds” as evidence, you may just as well go and see what Iranaeus has to say about ecclesiology and hold that over the new testament as well. (obviously i dont believe in them, or see any need for them).
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One reason we need creeds is so we don't have to reinvent the wheel. I hope you enjoy the never-ending debates in your housechurch on the divinity of Christ, His death, His resurrection, the forgiveness of sins, etc, etc. Even if everyone in your housechurch already agrees on these, you must bring the subjects up. No belief is so orthodox that you cannot question it. You don't believe in creeds, so all this is up for grabs unfortunately. That is the individualism I am talking about.

Peace.

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#3

I would point to the fact that the bible supports a Church with a big “C” that is an institution. I would point to Matt.18 and 1Tim3. Matt18 says to take disagreements to the Church. There must be a Church to take it to. 1Tim3 talks about the Church being the pillar and ground of truth. I would also mention that in Acts 15 they did not take the dispute to the scriptures, they took it to the Church and the Church decided.

I would then reference history for example Ignatius of Antioch, disciple of the apostle John, is very adament about staying in union with the bishop. In each of his letters he tells the people to do nothing without the bishop, or to treat the bishop as you would treat Christ. The Eucharist is valid in union and with permission of the bishop according to Ignatius. Irenaeus of Lyons, disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, traces all the first thirteen bishops of Rome starting from the apostle Peter and Paul and going down to his time. He also says, “all churches should obey this church [Rome] on account of its pre-eminent authority.”[Against Heresies 3.3] In the next chapter he tells them that since there is such proof, there is no reason to search outside the Catholic Church.


#4

Two points that may help:

  1. The New Testament itself (especially the catholic espistles–James, 1,2, and 3 John, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude) is a very good indication that the “Church” was quite centralized. The letter sent out to the “twelve tribes in the dispersion” (James 1:1) is clearly meant as doctrinal/theological instruction meant for the whole Church, not just one church in one particular place. Even Paul’s letters which are addressed to a specific church or person are considered instruction for the Church on the whole. The fact that these sacred authors and apostles used their God-given authority to instruct and discipline the whole Church should be proof enough that when Jesus founded his Church he did not leave it without the power to do so from an official “centralized” capacity.

  2. The New Testament nowhere dispells the need for an institutional Church–despite the “potential for harm” or abuse. Instead, the apostles themselves recognize the need to fill an “office” (episkopos=bishop) within the institutional Church when Judas committed suicide (Acts 1:20-26). They could have just said “Well, we eleven will just keep on preaching and teaching the truth and planting churches as the Spirit leads us.” But instead, they knew the chaos and virtual anarchy that would come from such decentralized authority and they began the Church’s “apostolic succession” with Matthias to ensure that the Church would be well led with centralized aposotolic authority.

Hope this helps.


#5

[quote=RonRule]I’m not catholic yet, but I’m getting close.
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Welcome home. Keep praying for Christs guidance to lead you to the Truth.

I’d really love to hear your comments about a discussion I’ve had on a friend’s blog.

I don’t really have the knowledge to give the topic full treatment, and I don’t want to just post links to better arguments. I think I’ve made my case and I think brad’s shown his blind contempt for everything that is Church with a capital C. What do you think? Is there something I can do better?

The first Christians had no doubt about how to determine which was the true Church and which doctrines the true teachings of Jesus Christ. The test was simple: Just trace the apostolic succession of the claimants.

Apostolic succession is the line of bishops stretching back to the apostles. All over the world, all Catholic are part of a lineage that goes back to the time of the apostles, something that is impossible in Protestant denominations (most of which do not even claim to have bishops).

The role of apostolic succession in preserving true doctrine is illustrated in the Bible. To make sure that the apostles’ teachings would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, Paul told Timothy, “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). In this passage he refers to the first three generations of apostolic succession—his own generation, Timothy’s generation, and the generation Timothy will teach.

The answers to these and a lot more can be found here:
catholic.com/library/apostolic_succession.asp
and here:
catholic.com/library.asp

May our Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you.


#6

If Christ had not intended a hierarchical Church, why did he establish just such a Church? From all of his disciples he selected twelve; from the twelve he selected one to whom he gave the keys of the Kingdom. To only one did he say “tend my sheep,” Jn 21:16 - “feed my sheep.” Jn 21:17 Only to Peter did he say, “you in turn must strengthen your brothers.” Lk 22:32 In Acts, we see the hierachy at work, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…etc.” Acts 2:42 The first half of Acts is almost exclusively about St. Peter and the second half likewise for St. Paul who also participated in this hierarchical Church which Christ established.
Some people complain that the Church doesn’t look like the first century Church. Why should it? The Church is organic, it is alive, living things don’t stay the same, they grow. The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed." Mt 13:31
When you plant a mustard seed you don’t get, nor should you expect to get, a ten foot mustard seed. It grows, and as it grows it undergoes some changes just as all living things do.
That’s more than I’ve had to say in one post in a long time. Now I’ll go back to usual habit of being mostly a quiet observer.


closed #7

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